Kara Ferguson is co-owner and head chef at the Tartan Toque restaurant

Tartan Toque soars with its chicken wings

First-year Victoria restaurant gets creative with pub food staple

The Tartan Toque is quickly garnering a reputation in Victoria as the go-to place for delicious chicken wings.

After just four months in operation, the restaurant – dubbed Victoria’s first chicken wing house – was voted the best place for wings in Greater Victoria.

Kara Ferguson, partner and head chef, is the one in charge of the menu. She’s the brains behind the flavours that pique taste buds and keep hungry customers coming back.

“We’ve got about 35 sauces now. What makes us a little different, I call us ‘real food.’ All the recipes come from my head, and we make everything from scratch,” she says.

While she’s creating new wing flavours almost weekly – through trial and error, mixing flavours and ingredients – The Tartan Toque already has unique classics.

“The candied bacon – that’s one of our most popular flavours,” Ferguson says. That one is a mix of brown sugar, butter, maple syrup, bacon and Montreal steak spice.

“Whenever I get days off, I spend hours researching wing sauces. I look for what strikes me as amazing, delicious combinations, and I try to figure out how I can make it into a wing sauce,” she says.

Rounding out the Best of the City’s top three chicken wing joints are Hecklers Bar and Grill, which boasts more than 50 flavours, and 1550’s, which gets long lineups every Wednesday with hungry patrons taking advantage of their $5 wings special.

The Tartan Toque is the brainchild of Ferguson and Barry Thomson, the latter of whom owns Victoria’s two Shine Café locations. Ferguson worked in the kitchen at Shine.

Ferguson, who’s originally from Ontario, says that province was teeming with wing houses while she grew up. Once she and Thomson realized that was what was missing in Victoria, The Tartan Toque was born.

She says the secret to a good chicken wing is confit, slow cooking them in their own fat.

“We slow cook them at (170 F) for about 24 minutes for prep, and then at service time we cook them at (355 F,)” she says. “We did a lot of research when we were starting up on what will make the crispiest wing. We found the secret to the perfect wing: the right times, the right temperatures.”

All Ferguson has to do now – when there’s a bit of down time in the kitchen – is create more flavours that’ll continue to set The Tartan Toque apart from its competitors, and continue building their well-earned reputation as the best place for chicken wings in Victoria.

The Tartan Toque is located at 1507 Pandora Ave.

Fun fact

• The Tartan Toque serves 640 pounds of chicken wings weekly.

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